• Firm blames ordeal on damaged pipeline
AJIDO, Imeke, Araromi and Agemuwo are rustic communities on the bank of the Atlantic Ocean, near Badagry, Lagos. They are areas in dire need of development through the presence of modern infrastructure.
Just about when their prayers were heard, the development has come with a huge cost in terms of pollution, heat, noise and vibration coming from gas being flared by the West African Gas Pipeline Company (WAPCo).
Indeed, the travails of host communities in gas-flaring areas of Niger Delta are now being replicated in the south west of the country - Badagry.
About 170 million standard cubic feet of gas per day (MMscfd) is currently being flared in Ajido, Imeke, Araromi and Agemuwo areas of Badagry Local Council of Lagos State by WAPCo.
The Guardian learnt that the gas flaring actually started around August last year and became very intense since the beginning of 2013.
When The Guardian visited the company at the weekend, there were heavily armed security personnel — a large contingent of policemen.
Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN) has condemned the situation and called on the Federal Government to pressure the company from further flaring of gas in the communities.
On its part, the government has called for the cessation of the gas flaring as a foil against concomitant impact on human health.
Specifically, the state government has given WAPCo up till Friday to halt the flaring, as it unfolded plans to sanction the company.
Already, WAPCo is said to be losing between $500,000 and $600,000 daily on account of the incident and Nigeria is also losing $15 million per day to gas flaring.
The gas flaring in Ajido, Imeke, Araromi and Agemuwo areas of Badagry in Lagos is already making life unbearable to the inhabitants who have to bear the terrible noise, vibration, extreme heat and emission emanating from the site.
The 678-kilometre West African Gas Pipeline (WAGP) links the existing Escravos-Lagos pipeline at the Nigeria Gas Company’s Itoki Natural Gas Export Terminal in Nigeria and proceeds to a beachhead in Lagos. From there, it moves offshore to Takoradi, in Ghana, with gas delivery laterals from the main line extending to Cotonou (Benin), Lome (Togo) and Tema (Ghana).
The Escravos-Lagos pipeline system has a capacity of 800 million standard cubic feet per day (MMscfd), and the WAPCo system will initially carry a volume of 170MMscfd and peak over time at a capacity of 460MMscfd.
The main offshore pipeline runs East to West at an average water depth of 35 metres though some sections such as the south east of Ghana, south of Lome and the Benin-Nigerian frontier ranges between 50 and 70 metres. Its range from the coast is as varied as the depth. South of Cape St. Paul in Ghana, it is as close as 3.5 nautical miles (6.5 kilometres) while at its widest section south of Winneba also in Ghana, it is 17.5 nautical miles (32.5 kilometres).
WAGP transports purified natural gas free of heavy hydrocarbons, liquids and water, ideally suited as fuel for power plants and industrial applications.
Eighty-five per cent of the gas is for power generation and the remaining for industrial applications. The Volta River Authority’s Takoradi Thermal Power Plant in Ghana, CEB of Benin and Togo are WAPCo’s foundation customers.
Speaking with The Guardian at the weekend, General Manager, Corporate Affairs of WAPCo, Harriet Wereko-Brobby, said that the company had decided to embark on flaring the gas which it was unable to export to neighbouring countries due to the damage to a pipeline late last year.
Wereko-Brobby who confirmed that the damaged gas pipeline had been successfully repaired, was however, not sure exactly when the company would stop the flaring.
She assured that the company was concerned about the plight of the people living around the community and would put in place measures that would bring an end to the gas flaring.
An indigene of Ajido, Musibau Busari, a bricklayer, told The Guardian that the gas flaring had made life unbearable to him and his five children who had to contend with the extreme heat and noise emanating from the flaring site.
He said that his family had developed health issues due to the emissions from gas being flared and called on the Federal Government to come to their rescue.
Another indigene, Dauda Tunde, a 55-year-old fisherman with 10 children, said that they had not been able to complain to the company due to the presence of security personnel with arms who usually would not allow anybody get close to the gate of the company.
Tunde, therefore, appealed to the Lagos State government to do something about the gas flaring in the community. “We want the company to provide air conditioners to us, provide us with quality health care and electricity,” he said.
Speaking with The Guardian on the issue, the Head of Media of Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN), Philip Jakpor, lamented the situation and said that the organisation had led a group of women to protest against the gas flaring, which had affected Ajido, Imeke and Araromi areas of Badagry.
He stated: “What is happening in Badagry is sad and unfortunate because gas-flaring as we have always said, pollutes the immediate and the wider environment and has serious consequences for the health of the local population.
“ERA/FoEN as an organisation raised the alarm on the dangers of the flares in Badagry, which the community people say is lit in the night to deflect attention. In the Niger Delta where there are over 200 gas flare locations, life expectancy is 41 years even when it is 48 years in other parts of the country. The wider impact of gas flare is the enormous amounts of greenhouse gasses emitted into the atmosphere that further heighten global warming. The same challenges, which Niger Delta communities face, are now being felt in Badagry.
“Before the project started in 1995, the people of Badagry were promised good and motorable roads, employment opportunities, school buildings, equipped health centres, among others, since the communities are in the right-of-way of the project.”
He disclosed that WAPCo signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the communities in 2007, which he said, was never honoured.
Rather, he hinted that what the communities got were tokens of sub-standard boreholes in a few communities, a non-functioning clinic and two separate blocks of schools’ classrooms (six rooms each) in two communities.
“The project, as noble as its intents are portrayed to the outside world, has brought dislocation to the areas due to environmental pollution which communities like Ajido, Imeke and Araromi face arising from the flaring of gas at the station in Ajido, the negative impact of underwater pipes on the water bodies, especially the lagoons bearing the famous coconut plantations, and suppression of the people’s right to protest. ERA/FoEN recently led women from four of the impacted communities (Ajido, Imeke, Araromi and Agemuwo) in a march to protest the environmental and human rights abuse as well as gender-based discriminations by WAPCO.”
The General Manager, LASEPA, Adebola Shabi, told The Guardian that the agency had visited the company and had given WAPCo one week to end the flaring.
Shabi said that the agency had already concluded plans to sanction the company for not informing LASEPA before embarking on gas flaring in the state.
He stated: “We have been to the flaring site and the company told us their challenges. The company did not inform us before embarking on gas flaring. If they had informed us, we would have been able to sensitise the community to what they are about to face. Therefore, we are going to sanction the company for failing to inform LASEPA and we are issuing a stop order on Monday (today).”
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